Film / Black Rain

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/black_rain_movie_poster.jpg
Like Sylvester Stallone in Cobra, Michael Douglas is trying way too hard to look cool in this movie.

Black Rain is a 1989 American action-thriller film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw and Yusaku Matsuda.

Detective Nick Conklin didn't need any more complications in his life. His ex-wife, the alimony payments, the rest of his bills, his kids, the occasional motorcycle street race and the Internal Affairs department investigating him for corruption were more than enough to keep him busy. But things really got interesting one day when he was eating lunch with his partner Charlie, and they happen to look over and see a known Mafia capo eating lunch and doing business with some Japanese gentlemen. Then a second group of Japanese men come into the restaurant, kill that first group, then flee. Nick and Charlie go after them, and after a tough chase that nearly costs Nick his life, they manage to bring the leader in.

It turns out the guy they caught is called Sato, and he's a notorious member of the Yakuza who is at the top of the wanted lists back in Japan. To get Nick out of the way of the IA investigation, and let him clear his head, their captain has Nick and Charlie escort Sato back to Osaka. Before they're even off the plane, they are met by a couple of detectives who take Sato off their hands. Looks like it's time to relax and take it easy on a nice little vacation... and then about a minute later the real detectives show up looking for Sato. Turns out those other guys were Sato's men.

Oops.

Desperate not to give further fuel to IA, (and maybe to just do something right) Nick insists on staying in Japan to assist the Japanese police catch Sato. (Not that most of the local cops want anything to do with the pair of them). Older detective Masahiro Masamoto becomes their guide as they get drawn deeper and deeper into the Yakuza's underworld, an underworld which is on the brink of a major confrontation...

The film was nominated for Oscars in Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing. Trailer.

Compare with The Yakuza, a Sydney Pollack film with a similar plot but a different take on themes.

Not to be confused with Peter Weir's The Last Wave, which was released in America as Black Rain. Or the Masuji Ibuse novel of the same name. Or the various documentaries about the end of WWII with similar titles.


Tropes associated with this work:

  • Badass Biker: Nick himself is one, as he participates in street races for cash and is implied to win in most cases. Sato just happens to lead a gang of biker criminals as well.
  • Big Bad: Sato, The Unfettered gangster looking to claim control of a large section of the Japanese underworld.
  • Bilingual Backfire: Nick has a habit of assuming that the Japanese don't understand him when they don't immediately respond, only to run headfirst into this trope.
    Nick Conklin: Just hope they got a Nip in this building who speaks fucking English.
    Matsumoto Masahiro: [overhearing] Assistant Inspector Matsumoto Masahiro, Criminal Investigation section, Osaka Prefecture police. And I do speak fucking English.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Mas is a principled cop who does good work, and does it by the book, although being around Nick convinces him that there are times when rules need to be bent for the greater good.
  • California Doubling: Because the production's work visa in Japan ran out, the climactic farm scenes were filmed in Napa Valley, California.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The first scene of the movie involves Nick participating in and winning a motorcycle street race. At the very end of the movie, Nick has to attempt to catch Sato on a motorcycle.
  • Counterfeit Cash: The basis of the Yakuza plan, counterfeit American money that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
  • Cowboy Cop: Nick is one, and he's a big deconstruction of the trope. Nick gets a lot of flak from both American and Japanese cops for his methods, has an IA investigation ongoing, and has outright stolen drug money. He's wavering between being a flawed guy who tries to do something right and a selfish, self-righteous Jerk Ass making excuses for his own failings for most of the movie.
  • Culture Clash: The culture clash between the blunt, rude, xenophobic New York cops and the button downed, insular, bureaucratic Japanese counterparts plays a large role in the movie. And even beyond that, to say that Nick doesn't fit in with or get Japanese culture is quite an understatement.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joyce is pretty good at doing this routine. Nick is a sarcastic bastard himself and has his moments, but mostly lacks the required deadpan delivery. An example of Joyce's deadpan at work:
    Nick: Who else knows about this war? (Between Sato and Sugai)
    Joyce: Counting you and me? [beat] Eleven million people.
  • Dirty Cop: Nick really is stealing money.
  • Disappointed In You: Masashiro's understated response to Nick admitting that he stole money, which Charlie didn't know about.
    Masashiro: "You shame him. And me. And yourself."
    Nick: [long pause] I know.
  • The Don: Sugai is a don in the Yakuza, and definitely gets the Vito Corleone treatment of being an old don from a past time with more morals and a Noble Demon approach, as opposed to the new generation led by Sato.
  • Eagleland: Apparently the Japanese believe in this stereotype, and it shows in their scorn towards the protagonists. Nick, for his part, is not exactly diplomatic and doesn't do much to disprove some aspects of the stereotype, even when he's right.
  • Enemy Mine: Nick and Sugai make a deal in order to take down Sato.
  • The '80s: Exaggerated. As the custom of The '80s dictated, it ran solely on the Rule of Cool: tough cops which try too hard to be tough, fear of Japan's power, badassitude, bomber jackets, gritty postindustrial landscape alternating with neon-infested cities, gunslinging, ridiculously violent gangsterism, hot nightclub girls in Stripperiffic dresses, and Paul Verhoeven of RoboCop (1987) and Basic Instinct fame had been originally chosen to direct it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The traditional yakuza despise Sato's methods and attitude, leading to the Enemy Mine with Nick. Subverted when Sato points out that his yakuza boss had no problem with his methods when Sato still worked for him.
  • Fish out of Water: A large portion of the movie is simply watching Nick flail and fail as he tries to survive in Tokyo.
  • Funny Foreigners: The American cops are this to the Japanese. In particular, a couple of girls in a nightclub are very amused by Nick and Charlie getting tricked by Sato's men.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Nick's style of fighting.
  • The Heart: Charlie, who is relentlessly good natured, cheerful, and has a great way with people, usually to make them feel better about their problems.
  • Identical-Looking Asians: When trying to identify the fake cops:
    Nick: Unbelievable, identical strangers.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff/Could Say It, But...: After Charlie gets killed, Masahiro hands Nick Charlie's personal effects, and tells him how the Japanese have a tradition of taking a single object from the deceased to remember them. The personal effects in question includes Charlie's confiscated firearm, and Nick is sorely in need of one. Nick gets the hint.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Subverted. At the end of the final fight Nick is clearly considering doing this to Sato, and Sato's look seems to indicate that he expects Nick to do so. However, the scene cut shows Nick bringing Sato into the police precinct. Ridley Scott did shoot an alternative ending where Sato is impaled on a spike.
  • Internal Affairs: They've been busting Nick's friends, and now they're hot on his trail too.
  • It's Personal: After Charlie is murdered by Sato, Nick will do anything to bring Sato down.
  • Life of the Party: Charlie. The man certainly knows how to liven up a night of karaoke and drinks, for one.
  • The Mafia: Very brief appearance in the beginning of the film, making a deal with some yakuza.
  • Mighty Whitey: Although Nick comes off as uncouth, completely out of his depth in Japan and so on, he takes down Sato virtually singlehandedly, while all Japanese cops except Mas come off as useless, Obstructive Bureaucrats who haven't been able to do anything useful the whole time. (Or even before the movie started, for that matter).
  • Mob War: The tensions between Sato and Sugai's factions are simmering and just waiting to erupt.
  • Morality Pet: Criticising Nick directly doesn't get through to him. Pointing out that his stealing money shames Charlie does.
  • Motive Rant: Sugai gives a calm but anger filled one about why he despises America and is Yakuza.
    I was ten years old when the B-29 came. My family lived underground for three days. When we came up, the city was gone. Then the heat brought rain. Black rain. You made the rain BLACK. You shoved your values down our throats until we forgot who we were. You created Sato and the thousands like him. I'm paying you back.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nick and Charlie think they're delivering a notorious criminal into custody, but they're actually playing right into his plans and he ends up going free. The rest of the movie is spent trying to fix this.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Nick shows some xenophobia, but he eventually gets better.
  • Not So Different: Nick and Sato both get into trouble with their superiors for not following the rules, both are fond of bikes, both have moments of instability.
  • Off with His Head!: How Sato kills Charlie.
  • Police Are Useless: At least the Japanese police are, judging by how the film depicts them. And American police are obnoxious, xenophobic, and morally compromised, but they can at least do something if pushed.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Nick. It appears he has some strong xenophobic feelings about Japanese people, or maybe even Asian people in general.
  • Recut: There are rumors of a director's cut that adds on about half an hour to the movie.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Nick is simmering pot of passion and rage. Charlie and especially Mas contrast this by being more socially acceptable and easy going (in the case of Charlie) or calm and analytical foils.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Charlie will spend the first hour or so of the movie winning your heart... only for it to break when Sato and his men kill him.
  • Sinister Shades: Sato and most of his gang wear these.
  • The Starscream: Sato was Sugai's lieutenant before starting a war with him for his own territory.
  • Sword Drag: Sato takes this up a few notches by doing this from on top of moving motorcycle when he kills Charlie.
  • Tactful Translation: Charlie tries to soften Nick's words to the Japanese on occasion.
  • Title Drop: Sugai does this during his Motive Rant.
    Sugai: I was 10 when the B-29 came. My family lived underground for three days. We when came up the city was gone. Then the heat brought rain. Black Rain.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Nick. He is xenophobic, violent, semi-alcoholic and he has also illegally stolen some drug money but we see him trying to do the right thing throughout the film and he has his better moments too.
  • With This Herring: Nick and Charlie's guns are confiscated when they arrive in Japan. They then proceed to take on the Japanese underworld.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: At one point Mas voices the opinion that this happened to the US with regards to WWII. In his opinion, the US won the war, but forgot what made it work so well, while the Japanese learned from their own mistakes and American strengths and took over in peacetime. Of course, history hasn't treated Mas' point of view very well in the decades since...
    Mas: Perhaps you should think less of yourself and more of your group, try to work like in Japanese. I grew up with your soldiers; you were wise then. Now - music and movies are all America is good for. We make the machines, we build the future, we won the peace.
  • Yakuza: The main antagonists. Sato, the Big Bad, is an ambitious young Yakuza looking to claim his place alongside, or over, the older generation like Sugai, and he's willing to hijack their plans and schemes to do so.
  • Yubitsume: The villain does it, remarkably. It also has some plot relevance, as the fresh injury bothers Sato in his last fight with Nick.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/BlackRain